Thursday, June 07, 2007

Brothers and Sisters, You Ain't That Big of a Deal.

The Nashville Blogosphere has a problem. That problem is a huge sense of collective over-importance.

Let me get you up to speed in case you landed here googling "naked playmates," as 98% of my visitors have lately. Nashville's ABC affiliate station, WKRN, has a blog aggregator called Nashville is Talking (NiT), which, until yesterday, was wrangled by a fine gal named Brittney. Brittney had been growing tired of the job lately, and had been dropping hints for a while about it, but the shit hit the fan when she linked to a hateful post about a dead person without comment. In other words, she didn't say "this is racist, we at WKRN don't agree with it, but it is written by a Nashville blogger, and my job is to link to this stuff." And so a few people took it to mean she did approve of it and laid into her in their own harsh and hateful ways. Including calling for her job.

The crux of the argument can be summed up by this pinhead's statement I saw somewhere:
". . . in bloggyland, when you paste and link to some crap and don’t provide any context or clarification, thats called ENDORSEMENT."
I guess I was missing that page in my bloggyland rulebook.

I learned long ago as a bartender to never discuss religion or politics if you want to keep the peace. Well, that was part of Brittney's job. People who check NiT on a regular basis know Brittney and her political leanings and her past run-ins with various bloggers, and any NiT regular knew that she wasn't endorsing the post at all. In fact, those folks knew that she linked with nothing but personal disgust.

The only "mistake" she made is that she didn't treat each and every post as if a first-time reader was going to see it. That would be impossible. There is no way she could spend two years, eight hours a day linking to thousands of blog posts and not end up playing to the regulars. Unfortunately, that group of regulars is tiny compared to the reach of a TV station, not to mention the whole of the internet. It is so small that one could write a story that would be jibberish to outsiders, but would be clear to regular readers. (Slarti and Ivy went to shoot guns at UncleSay's place, Coma and theogeo came over from Hooterville and Wage took flickr fodder. The Roger A. and Carter were there, fawning over B, when S&F arrived claiming he found Sista and Rex L. making out at a rally supporting the Krumm/Kate O' ticket for Blog King and Queen . . .)

Nashville is Talking has created a diverse community of thoughtful, literate, idiotic, goofy, intelligent and outright stupid people. Brittney, being the only person ever to run NiT, is the person to credit for creating that community. But it is a very, very, very small community. A miniscule local internet clique.

I have a restaurant that is part of this very Nashville bloggyland. Opening day was all blogger related business. And several bloggers became regulars. But the main reason the blog helped the business was because the mainstream media picked up on it from the beginning. I got more press in the Tennessean, All the Rage, the Nashville Scene, the City Paper, etc. than I could have dreamed of, all because of the blog. I was interviewed on NPR about BBQ. I was hailed as some kind of new-media marketing genius and mention in a discussion at the Harvard Business School and in an Owen School of Business (Vanderbilt) quarterly magazine. I won a bunch of "blogger awards" and appeared in online restaurant publications as an example of how to use a blog to build your business. It was great. But, at the height of that blog's popularity, it was averaging fewer than 200 hits a day. And most of those were the same group of Nashville bloggers coming back over and over to check on my progress at getting the place open. If someone came to sell me advertising promising 200 impressions per day, that person would be shown the door very quickly. All my blog posts put together didn't come anywhere close to having the impact that one favorable review in the Tennessean did.

But my place became a hot ticket for this NiT blogging community, for better and worse. Many of the local bloggers who have regularly written about my restaurant are decidedly left-leaning. (And many are not.) I once got into a pissing match with a far-right blogger in his comments, when he told me that he wouldn't eat there because he pictured my place as a gathering place for a bunch of liberals to hatch plans to kill babies and use tax money to release convicted granny rapers. I tried to tell him that my restaurant exists in the real world, and that in reality, Nashvhille bloggers while very important to me, represent less than one percent of my business. He just wouldn't believe it.

I am one of the lucky few who has made money from a blog. Other than my smokin' brother-in-arms Patrick Martin (killer BBQ, if you are ever in Nolensville), Brittney and Adam are the only folks around here that I can think of who have directly made money off blogging. And their situations are completely opposite of mine. They are/were paid to spend 40 hours a week in complete Nashville blog immersion. And the nature of the internet, especially the ability to spew hate anonymously, is what did Brittney in. And I can't blame her one bit.

Take a look at the NiT Blogroll. There are about 400 blogs. Compare that to another self-publishing revolution, MySpace. A search of all MySpace pages in the Nashville area maxes out at 75 pages with 3000 sites. It won't go any higher, so who knows how many there are. Right now, in the grand scheme of things, the impact of NiT is tiny. Yet I applaud WKRN and former GM Mike Sechrist for what they have done with blogging. Not because of the "impact" they have made, but because they were, and always will be, first. And with internet stuff, first is first, and anything else is last. I hope the new regime over there sticks with it, just because you never know where it will lead.

The Nashville Blogosphere has been very good to me and my business, and I have met friends I will probably keep for life, and for that I am grateful. And it wouldn't have happened without Brittney. And for that I am especially grateful.

But if you sit at your computer all day and get outraged by stupid shit like the lack of a disclaimer, and start calling for people's jobs, you need to get out a little. It just ain't that big of a deal.


At 10:32 PM , Blogger Andy Axel said...

Bless you, Dr. Funkenswine.

At 1:15 AM , Blogger chez béz said...

I totally agree.

At 1:49 AM , Blogger Lynnster said...

Brother Knuck, I have read many, many great takes on this whole sorry mess over the past two days... but yours is most definitely one of the VERY best. I nodded my head through the entire thing.

Fine job, my man, stupendous job.

At 6:33 AM , Blogger 'Coma said...

Very well written and said.
And, yes, it was the blog that brought me to your BBQ Juke Joint.

At 8:50 AM , Anonymous grandefille said...


Kick it out now, funk soul brotha. Fine work.

See you tomorrow. Onward!!!

At 1:08 PM , Anonymous Bob K said...

Correct on all counts.

At 1:10 PM , Anonymous Bob K said...

Oh, and not all of NK's business goes to lefty baby killers. I think the largest political catering event he might ever have done was for a Republican.

At 1:15 PM , Anonymous john h said...

As usual, excellent perspective.

At 1:18 PM , Anonymous john h said...

P.S. I'm a regular, but I seemed to miss the meetings where the revolution was being fomented, along with the baby-killing confabs. I guess my timing is way off.

At 1:36 PM , Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...


"Correct on all counts"

Is this an official announcement that you and Kate O' are, in fact, running for blog king and queen?

At 6:40 PM , Anonymous sistasmiff said...

See...that's what I'd have said had I thought about it first.

Now this thing of me and RL Camino making out...I know it's pretend and all but what a wonderful pretend it is!

At 12:35 PM , Anonymous Grace said...

umm... sir... you now have more free time to post. So.... let's see some posts.. :-)


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